Consumer advocate calls for changes to rate mitigation



SaltWire Network


Consumer Advocate Dennis Browne is calling on the N.L. provincial government to pass an amendment to the Public Utilities Act to help with rate mitigation in the upcoming session. Browne, who participated in a review of the act last summer, has recommended legislative changes to address financial and procedural problems. The government has already received the recommendations. Browne says for rate mitigation to succeed, it’s necessary for the House of Assembly to enact legislation during this session. “With Muskrat Falls cost approaching, time is not on our side,” Browne said in a news release. “If rate mitigation is to further assist ratepayers with their utility bills, the legislature needs to act now.” His proposed changes include the requirement for consumers to have full public hearings. Browne said there haven’t been any public capital budget hearings at the PUB since 2005 and capital budgets have skyrocketed. He says capital budget envelopes are needed to control utility spending, which reduces capital budget expenditures in other jurisdictions. Browne also said the people who make decisions about how much is paid for electricity should be changed every eight years so they don’t get too comfortable in their jobs. Temporary commissioners should be appointed on occasion to provide expertise on complicated issues, Browne suggested. Contributed